The Arts Council gets this show on the road
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Touring theatre in 2012:
Blood in the Alley productions: €48,500
Corn Exchange: €48,500
Louis Lovett: €15,900
Nomad Theatre Network: €68,500
The Abbey Theatre: €58,500
Waterford Theatre Royal Society: €10,000

Previously funded:
Blue Raincoat: €30,000
Rough Magic: €124,000
Second Age: €114,000

Main image: Eleanor Methven and Stephen Brennan in Rough Magic's production of Neil Simon's Plaza Suite. Photo: Ros Kavanagh 

Upcoming tour dates:

Rough Magic's Plaza Suite (24 January-3 March, 2012)

Second Age's Macbeth (30 January-30 March, 2012)

DruidMurphy (from 23 May 2012)


The Arts Council gets this show on the road

Touring, report after report shows, is an expensive business which can lead to punitive losses if undertaken unwisely but is an effective way of growing audiences, prestige and even box-office if done well. It is also one of the only ways an abundance of regional venues can fill their under populated stages.

Since the end of the Arts Council Touring Policy in 2000, the culture of touring has lacked continuity, going through periods of retreat and resurgence as stalwarts such as Druid and the Abbey continued touring on modest means, before the kick-start of regional venue associations such as NASC and NOMAD, and lately the Arts Council’s Touring Experiment and its subsequent Touring and Dissemination of Work Scheme.

This week the Arts Council announced details of artists and companies funded to tour in the latter half of 2012 with six theatre successful companies listed among 33 recipients across the art forms. The fund, which amounts to more than €740,000, brings 2012’s spend on touring up to almost €1.5m. Three theatre companies were earlier awarded money to tour in the first half of 2012. The breakdown of the new recipients is intriguing: Blood in the Alley’s modest West Cork tour of Marina Carr’s Woman and Scarecrow was awarded €48,500, for instance, with the Abbey’s much larger-scale tour of The Plough and the Stars receiving just €10,000 more at €58,500. This may reflect the size of the National Theatre’s revenue funding, with touring understood to be one of its core activities. Yet Second Age, a company with a specific remit to tour its school-syllabus derived productions, and which received €260,000 in 2011 as an RFO, has received €114,000 to tour its current production of Macbeth. (Only Rough Magic’s Plaza Suite tour, at €124,000, received a higher allocation.)

Other recipients include Theatre Lovett’s new Finegan Kruckemeyer commission, provisionally entitled The House That Jack Filled, which follows its domestic and international success with Kruckemeyer’s The Girl Who Forgot to Sing Badly. Theatre Lovett’s new family-friendly production is expected to debut in Dublin in the autumn before touring to ten venues as part of the Stroller’s network. Another touring network, NOMAD, benefits from forthcoming tour of Ride On, a new comedy by Seamus O’Rourke directed by Livin Dred’s Padraic MacIntyre, which takes in an impressive 12 venues at the end of the year.

druidmurphy.jpgInterestingly, while the biggest Irish tour of 2012 – DruidMurphy – credits Arts Council assistance, Druid’s tour is not receiving funds though the Arts Council’s specific Touring scheme. A co-production between Druid, Quinnipiac University, Lincoln Center Festival and Galway Arts Festival, with support from Culture Ireland, it begins in Galway, visits Hampstead Theatre as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, performs in four County Galway venues as part of GAF, with further dates to Irish cities, the UK and the United States.

The Arts Council’s fund is an essential stimulus for the dissemination of work, for expanding the life span of quality work and for sustaining Irish audiences – or, as an emphatically on-message Minister Jimmy Deenihan put it for “protecting the State’s investment in regional arts infrastructure” that will also “attract cultural tourism opportunities and help to increase some local employment in these towns and villages”. Whether it’s the Arts Council scheme, the national economic agenda or the example of Druid, though, there seems to be more than one way of getting back out there.

Peter Crawley is News Editor of Irish Theatre Magazine


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